Image source | Starbucks

Starbucks | Signing Store | October 2018 | Washington DC | Find more details here

If you are anything like me, you probably love Starbucks. No matter what city, state or country that you are in, you can find your favorite drinks and treats with the same quality as you have in your own back yard. This company has innovated by creating a multi-billion dollar industry where none previously existed. And they are continuing to set trends by cultivating their corporate responsibility efforts to include new untapped arenas.

Starbucks next great giving program is focused on serving the deaf community. This fall, Starbucks will open its first all-signing store, where all employees will be fluent in American Sign Language. According to a press release from the company, the new store will open in Washington, D.C. in October and will be close to the deaf-friendly Gallaudet University.

Not only is Starbucks working to better serve its deaf customers, but this new outpost will also open up opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing employees: Starbucks says it will be hiring more than 20 such employees at the D.C. store. “The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is thrilled that a large corporation such as Starbucks is establishing a signing store,” NAD CEO Howard A. Rosenblum said in a statement. “This endeavor promotes sign language, deaf culture, and increased accessibility and employment for deaf people.”

This Starbucks will also include merchandise and artwork created by a deaf artist, and the employees’ aprons will be embroidered with ASL and adorned with “I sign” pins. “This store is truly from partners, for partners, and we couldn’t have gotten here without the team of deaf partners and allies from our Accessibility office and the Access Alliance partner network who came together to bring this vision to life. I look forward to the team welcoming the community to this store in October,” Starbucks’ executive vice president of U.S. retail, Rossann Williams, said in the release. We love that Starbucks is making this change.

Fingers crossed this signing store is only the first of many in the U.S.For the past few years I have had the pleasure of partnering with Lyft. Their stance on diversity and inclusion was the original reason I was drawn to them. As I got to know the organization I discovered that they were not only generous in their efforts but had an authentic desire to leverage their company resources to truly help people.

Starbucks worked in close partnership with The Society of Interpreters for the Deaf (S.I.D.) to facilitate the hiring, training and coaching of Deaf partners as they navigate the retail store environment and to teach Sign Language to hearing partners at the store. The company also is supporting a number of hearing partners at the company’s local Support Center to learn Malaysian Sign Language so they can communicate with and effectively train store partners and recruit new Deaf partners on an ongoing basis. The store currently employs 10 Deaf partners, including a shift manager, and aims to increase employment of Deaf people across the country over time.

Image source | Starbucks

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